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Antwerp (Municipality, Province of Antwerp, Belgium): Districts

Last modified: 2011-12-24 by ivan sache
Keywords: antwerp | district |
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The districts of Antwerp

The municipality of Antwerp (in Dutch, Antwerpen; in French, Anvers; 446,203 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 20,451 ha, therefore the third largest Belgian municipality after Tournai and Couvin) is the capital of the Province of Antwerp and the economic capital of Flanders. The municipality of Antwerp is made since 1983 of the nine districts of Antwerp (168,049 inh.; 8,730 ha), Berchem (40,062 inh.; 579 ha), Berendrecht-Zandvliet-Lillo (9,583 inh.; 5,266 ha), Borgerhout (41,779 inh.; 393 ha), Deurne (69,585 inh.; 1,306 ha), Ekeren (22,326 inh.; 807 ha), Hoboken (34,542 inh.; 1,067 ha), Merksem (41,004 inh.; 828 ha) and Wilrijk (38,319 inh.; 1,361 ha). The districts are former municipalities merged in 1983, except Berendrecht-Zandvliet-Lillo, made of three former municipalities incorporated to the municipality of Antwerp in 1958.

Ivan Sache, 25 August 2008


The legal status of district flags

Decree adopted in 2011

On 17 January 2011, the Flemish government published a short Decree dated 3 December 2010, entitled "Decree concerning a modification of the 27 April 2007 Decree concerning the adoption of the arms and flag of provinces, of municipalities and districts, and of the Flemish Communitiy Commission".

Article 3 § 1 now reads:

If on 1 July 2011 a district has not yet adopted a flag or arms, the district shall legally adopt the flag or arms that were valid for the territory of the district before the 1983 amalgamation.

This is quite different from what the original decree prescribed, namely the enforcement of arms and/or flag if by a certain date no approved design had been adopted or proposed. Several districts dragged their feet or refused to cooperate.
Also, the shape of the district flag, a swallow-tail with straight edges, has been abolished by striking the fourth sentence of Article 1. Recent comments in the press have indeed drawn attention to the fact that a swallow-tailed flag costs more to manufacture than a rectangular one.

The current situation is one where several districts have already adopted swallow-tails, not all of which, however, have been accepted by the relevant authority (Wilrijk).
Some new swallow-tails, approved ones that is, have come out of hiding and have appeared in the 5-6 February 2011 edition of the Antwerp popular daily Gazet van Antwerpen.

Jan Mertens, 6 February 2011


Decree adopted in 2007

The Decree prescribing the arms and the flags of the provinces, municipalities and districts, and of the Flemish Community Commission was adopted by the Flemish Parliament on 18 April 2007, confirmed by the Executive of Flanders on 27 April 2007 and published on 2 July 2007 in the Belgian official gazette.
Below are the parts relevant for districts.

Article 1. The present Decree settles a Community issue.

Article 2.

§ 1.
Each province, each municipality and each district, as well as the Flemish Community Commission, shall have its own arms and its own flag.
§ 2.
[...] The arms of a district shall be made of a shield with a reference to the municipality ruling the district. The flag of a district shall be swallow-tailed.
§ 3.
The shield, including, if relevant, the outer ornaments, shall be put on the seal of the Flemish Community Commission, of the province, of the municipality and of the district.

Article 3.

§ 1.
Within the year following the coming into effect of the present Decree, the District Council shall submit its Decision prescribing the arms and a flag to the approval by the Flemish Government.
[...]
§ 3.
Within three months after the receipt of the Regulation of the Flemish Community Commission, of the Decision of the Provincial Council, of the Decision of the Municipal Council, or of the Decision of the District Council, the Flemish Government, after advice of the Flemish Heraldic Council, especially of the Heraldry Division of the Royal Commission for Monuments and Sites, shall take a Decision approving this Regulation of this Decision, or shall send to the Flemish Community Commission, to the province, to the municipality or to the district a justified request to revise the Regulation or the Decision. The advice of the Flemish Heraldic Council, especially of the Heraldry Division of the Royal Commission for Monuments and Sites, shall be attached to this request.
Within three months after the receipt of the revision request, the Flemish Community Commission, the Provincial Council, the Municipal Council or the District Council shall submit a new Regulation or a new Descision to the approval by the Flemish Government.

Article 4. If, when the deadline prescribed by Article 3 expires, the Flemish Community Commission, a province, a municipality or a district has failed to submit a Regulation or a Decision, or, if relevant, a new Regulation or a new Decision, the Flemish Government shall automatically prescribe arms and a flag. The same holds if the Flemish Government does not approve the new Regulation or the new Decision as prescribed in Article 3, § 3, second Section.

Article 5.

[...]
§ 2.
The arms and the flag of the Flemish Community Commission, as well as the arms and the flags of provinces, municipalities and districts prescribed as stated in the present Decree, shall be modified and and prescribed again, only invoking new facts or new reasons, by a Regulation of the Flemish Community Commission or by a Decision of the Provincial Council or of the Municipal Council, approved by the Flemish Government, as prescribed in Article 3, § 3 and Article 4.

Article 6. The present Decree shall come into effect on 1 January 2007.

Ivan Sache, 19 June 2008

The district flags should have been officially adopted before 31 December 2007. Jochen Vandenberg, De Standaard, 5 December 2007, summed up what had happened:
- Only Wilrijk has done the job properly: the District Council will evaluate various designs shortly and send in a proposal.
- Berendrecht-Zandlvliet-Lillo organized a contest but all designs were refused by the Flemish Heraldic Council.
- Other districts have not begun their work yet or are toying with ideas at most.
In view of this situation (and the total lack of preparation of the parties involved) the Flemish Heraldic Council has nullified the deadline and no new deadline is known yet.

Jan Mertens, 8 December 2007

In his blog, 9 February 2010, the Flemish MP Wim Wienen (Vlaams Belang) does not see why such flags have to be swallowtails as these are more expensive, and, moreover, why 875 year-old Hoboken should not be proud of its own flag and arms.
On 12 January 2010, he tabled a proposal of Decree stipulating, under Article 2, that districts, as former municipalities, have the right to maintain their pre-merger arms and flag.

Jan Mertens, 3 April 2010


 
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